Exclusive: Marlene King Talks Adapting The Merciless to the Big Screen!

Marlene King is adapting The Merciless book to the big screen.

Photo Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

The are three main reasons why we’re excited about The Merciless. First, Danielle Vega’s spine-tingling debut about a group of vengeful girls who conduct an exorcism on an outsider is a true page-turner. It’s packed with enough chills, thrills, and horror to keep you sleeping with one eye open! Second, the cover is gorgeous. A bright pink is the perfect contrast to all the evil and darkness that lies within those crisp pages. And last, guess who’s penning the screenplay based on this scary read? None other than Pretty Little Liars‘ kickass executive producer, Marlene King!

That said, we caught up with the talented scribe to get the 411 on her writing process, her plans for the film version of this scary read, and which PLL stars she would love to cast in the big-screen adaptation of The Merciless. Check out the exclusive interview below!

Alloy Entertainment: What was it about author Danielle Vega’s The Merciless novel that made you want to adapt it for film?
Marlene King:
Similar to my experience reading PLL for the first time, I saw the book visually as I was turning the pages. I knew what the movie would look like and it got me every excited.

Alloy Entertainment: Are there particular scenes from the book that you immediately wanted to capture on screen?
Marlene King:
Spoiler alert. The entire exorcism sequence is going to be fun to write and nail biting to watch.

Alloy Entertainment: Sofia, Riley, Alexis, Grace, and Brooklyn, are the main characters in The Merciless. Can you envision any of the PLL girls in any of these roles?
Marlene King:
Yes, but I won’t say who.  I like keeping secrets.

Alloy Entertainment: Can you picture Keegan, Tyler, or Ian as any of The Merciless guys?
Marlene King:
Yes yes and yes.

Alloy Entertainment: We know you’re a fan of Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard’s books. How would you compare Danielle Vega’s storytelling style to Sara’s?
Marlene King:
Like Sara, Danielle’s wrote a page turner.  It’s a book you don’t want to put down until you get to the ending.  There are some nice twists along the way to keep you guessing.

Alloy Entertainment: What aspects of The Merciless do you think Pretty Little Liars fans will like the most?
Marlene King:
Like PLL, it’s a female ensemble story and there is a big, bad bully that will scare the pants off of you.

Alloy Entertainment: Can you tell us a little about your writing process and how you’ll go about adapting The Merciless novel into a film?
Marlene King: The first time I read The Merciless I made sure it was just for fun.  The second time I read it, I made an outline of the story.  From that outline, I pick the scenes from the book that tell the story in the most compelling and visually dynamic ways.  That becomes the starting point for the screenplay.  Two of the book’s characters do remind me of two actresses on PLL and I see them in my mind as I’m putting pen to paper.

Alloy Entertainment: Any advice for fans who are about to read Vega’s terrifying (in the best way!) book?
Marlene King:
It’s a book you will want to talk about so make sure you read it with your friends.  And maybe have a sleep over when you read the last few chapters. Hand holding helps.

Which PLL actor/actress do you think would be perfect for a role in The Merciless? Could you picture any of the show’s main girls as a horror queen? Post your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to order your copy from any of these retailers below:


  1. diana benitez Said:

    Omg I would luv it to be Shay Mitchell

  2. Mikaela Said:

    Troian and Janel would be awesome in horror

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